Not just a viable outlet for a superstar DJ’s lavish tastes, UK’s Global Underground imprint has provided a prolific, mostly stellar worldview of electronic dance music in the process. Its DJ roster — which includes heavyweights like Sasha, John Digweed, Danny Tenaglia and virtually every other notable name to grace the covers of Mixer and BPM — broadcasts from exotic locales or ultra-lit metropolises from Ibiza to Tokyo.
Though the label’s musical breadth is occasionally offset by its Wild On-esque tendencies, Global Underground’s Afterhours series is a welcome paradigm shift. The epic tech-house, tribal and trance mixes are replaced by a freeform smattering of all things chill-out, downtempo, exotica or whatever labeling you’d prefer. The minimal fashionista cover and black sleeve design encapsulate the late-night feel, when winding down becomes more a priority than an opportunity.
This latest collection splendidly fits the bill, with the first disc showcasing acts like Warp Records’ brilliant ambient-IDMers Boards of Canada, the icy Sigur Ros-ish stylings of The Album Leaf, Tricky’s lush trip-hop of “Hollow” and even Roxy Music’s classic track “In Every Home a Heartache.” Disc two renders a slightly more “upbeat” feel, a hard feat to accomplish in the midst of such soul-soothing tracks like Unkle’s “I Need Something Stronger,” Primal Scream’s dub flirtations on “Jailbird” and even Telefon Tel Aviv’s “My Week Beats Your Year.” It’s easier to appreciate Afterhours 2 as one complete set than as separate entities, and though a bit overindulgent in its “big calm” approach, it’s an enjoyable blend of new acts, old favorites and everything in between. In the wake of a million ready-to-serve chill-out comps, Afterhours escapes the commercial-esque trappings with a collection that rivals Another Late Night and Back to Mine.
Global Underground: www.globalunderground.co.uk